It’s coming up to two weeks now since news of Singapore opening up, which means lesser restrictions to movements, going back to the office, increased amount of people allowed for gatherings, wearing of masks in public is now non mandatory and less restrictions to travel abroad. With 75% of workforce returning to the workplace, that would mean crowded public transports, road traffic and even traffic at the pantry for coffee/tea.
Most of you have been working from home for at least 2 years now, where space and time is yours to manage. That took some adjustment from lots of excitement on filling your time with video games, cooking creative meals, Netflix-ing and then realizing this pandemic doesn't look like it has an end date, feelings of isolation and maybe even depression cropped in. Being at home didn’t seem fun anymore. That took another adjustment to get used to. Just when you’ve learnt to navigate this isolation, the news of this new transition means another adjustment. As many of us do welcome this new transition it also means the need to be more emotionally / socially aware of others around us and how this may also trigger us.
Look out for signs of discomfort showing up for you or others around you, such as irritability, frustrations, fatigue, anxiety, anger and even panic. You can help yourself or your friends by being aware of such symptoms showing up by noticing the sensation in your body, your thoughts and feelings.
Your routine is changing and you have to be up earlier, sitting down for much longer in the office, you’re probably attending more face-to-face meetings, and you may have trouble sleeping with all the stress related to change as well. You may get tired easily, you may hold more tension in your body and it shows up as headaches, tense shoulders and neck, stomach discomfort. You may have anxiety of being back to a toxic environment, of feeling monitored for your every movement, or even anxiety for having to meet people every day. That may also cause irritability and distractions, causing you to have trouble concentrating on your tasks. You may have issues with certain colleagues who do not hold the same values as you do, and that can be quite triggering. Watch out for anger and that can add to tension headaches, tension in your body and even stomach upset.
1) Be attuned with yourself. Spend some time each morning and evening to notice your thoughts, and the sensations in your body. What is going on, what are you feeling, how is your body feeling, what does it need from you.
2) Rest! If you are too tired, you won’t be able to focus at work, you may upset easily and you won’t enjoy your time out with your close friends or loved ones. Learn to honor your body, take a break and rest early when you need to.
3) Stretch and move! Sitting down for too long will disrupt the blood flow and circulation needed to send oxygen to your brain for a clearer mind and more cheerful mood. Stretching helps you to be more flexible / improve your posture, reduces aches and pains, increases your self-confidence, and give you a better outlook on life
4) Pause! When you notice yourself getting overwhelmed, remove yourself from where you are. If you are in a meeting, take a toilet break. The walk and the space will help. If you are working in an open office concept, find an empty office room, do some light stretches, breathe deeply and slowly, and affirm yourself that you are safe and that these feelings will pass.
5) Hydrate! Staying hydrated (with non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic beverage) helps with circulation by improving blood flow throughout the body. A well hydrated body can help with increasing your energy levels, your mood and brain performance.
6) Process your thoughts and emotions. Talk to someone you can trust or a therapist if you need to process what you’re thinking or feeling. Psychotherapy helps people understand that they can do something to improve their situation. That leads to changes that enhance healthy behavior, whether it's improving relationships, expressing emotions better, doing better at work or school, or thinking more positively.
That saying, be gentle and practice compassion at all times with yourself and others around you. As you embrace yet another change, look back and see how far you’ve come and remind yourself that you will get through this just as you had the past few years. Remember, with struggle comes progress; you are braver, stronger and wiser for it.